WIN-ABILITY: The BJP in-charge of Goa assembly elections, former chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnivas, has virtually confirmed that Babush Monserrate will be the BJP candidate for Panaji. Fadnivas declared that “win-ability” and not heredity of a candidate would determine who would get a ticket.
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Babush Monseratte has stopped campaigning as the BJP candidate for the Panaji Assembly constituency. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP seemed intent on prolonging its virtual campaigning. For a Saturday following the week when Calangute MLA Michael Lobo and his wife Delilah were welcomed in Congress party. For a Saturday following the week when the Trinamool Congress announced its own version of the bhumiputra bill. For a Saturday following the week when cases against several accused of crimes were speeding ahead of the polling date on February 14, 2022.
BJP CHOSES WIN-ABILITY
AND a few stray thoughts on the probability of Babush Monseratte getting the ticket for the Panaji constituency. In response to Utpal Parrikar’s claim to the Panaji constituency, the BJP in-charge of Goa, Devendra Fadnivas, re-iterated that “win-ability was more important than whose son you are.” This is a clear signal that the BJP values win-ability over integrity. It is also confirmation of Babush’s claim that he will be given the BJP ticket for the Panaji constituency.
The BJP has also accepted his other demands of Jennifer getting the Taleigao Constituency. Babush will also probably be allowed to choose the candidate for the other three Tiswadi constituencies, namely Santa Cruz, St Andre and Cumberjua.
Utpal Parrikar remains adamant on contesting from the Panaji Assembly constituency. He has made it clear that if he is denied the BJP ticket he would contest as an Independent. The BJP is clearly nervous. Several sitting BJP MLAs, particularly those from the minority community, have quit the BJP to join the Congress. This includes the Vasco da Gama BJP MLA Carlos Almeida, BJP MLA from Cortalim Alina Saldinha, and the latest in the list being BJP MLA of Calangute Michael Lobo.
The BJP wants to make sure it is able to win all the five seats in the Tiswadi Taluka. In the past Babush Monserrate has succeeded in facilitating the victory of BJP candidates in all the five Tiswadi taluka. The BJP perhaps is also worried that the ten Congress MLAs who defected to the BJP after the death of Manohar Parrikar, may go back to the Congress or to one of the other parties. The BJP is determined to return to power in Goa. It considers Goa the first step in its campaign to win the 2024 Parliamentary elections, so that Narendra Modi can retain his prime minister’s post.
The BJP is even more determined to win Goa as there have been major defections from the BJP in Uttar Pradesh which has the largest number of 80 Parliamentary seats. Two senior ministers and several MLAs have defected from the Yogi Aditiyanath camp to the Samajwadi party in the last few days.
This has made it all the more important for the BJP to retain power in Goa. Whether Babush Monserrate will be able to fulfil his promise of securing all the five Tiswadi seats for the BJP is doubtful. His position is shaky in Taleigao where there is a lot of anti-incumbency against Jennifer Monserrate. Babush may find it difficult to defeat Rudolf Fernandes who has been declared the Congress Candidate in Santa Cruz.
The candidates for Cumberjua and St Andre have yet to be declared. On the other hand Utpal has the support of Parrikar loyalist and even former head of the RSS in Goa Shubhash Velingkar. Even the Shiv Sena has offered its ticket to Utpal Parrikar to contest the Panaji seat.
AND a few stray thoughts on the BJP government in the state deliberately bent on prolonging the period of virtual campaigning. It may be recalled that the Central Election Commission has declared that no physical campaigning such as public meetings and rallies would be permitted after January 15 to prevent the spread of covid-19. While other states going to the polls along with Goa such as Uttar Pradesh have imposed very strict curfews, the Goa government seems to be rolling out the red carpet for the Omicron coronavirus.
There are no restrictions on those who want to come and party in Goa. There are no restrictions on those who want to come and gamble in Goa. The nightclubs are blasting away trans-music to blow their intoxicated brains. The casinos are full and over flowing. So are the beaches and the approach roads to the beaches.
All this despite the fact that there is a steep increase in Covid-19 by the day since even before New Year. While other states like Delhi have virtually imposed lockdowns when the positivity touched 10%, Goa has not imposed any curbs though the positivity as on Wednesday was as high as 30.3%. Which means that every third Goan resident has Covid-19.
The expert committee on Covid-19 for Goa is dominated by senior BJP leader Dr Shekar Salkar, the medical director of Manipal hospital. Dr Salkar has no guts to tell Pramod Sawant and Satish Dhond that it is high time they stop tourists from coming into Goa. On the contrary, Shekar Salkar, would like more to come as Manipal hospital charges Rs1,400 for RT PCR test. The best kept secret is that none of the increasing number of samples which test positive everyday are sent for gene sequencing. This is the only fail proof method of confirming whether the Covid-19 infection is the simple Omicron or the deadly delta.
Excepting for those who arrive by charter flights and test positive, none of the samples are sent for gene testing to the National Institute of Virology labs in Pune. Unlike Maharashtra and Karnataka tourists to Goa do not need either double vaccination certificate or a Covid-19 negative certificate to enter Goa. The number of new cases went up by 17% last week. The number of deaths have gone up by a frightening 70% in the last one week. The infrastructure is not ready for dealing with the third wave which is in an advance stage.
Director of Health Services Director Dr Ira Almeida has confirmed that the third wave started in Goa on December 27, 2021. Only the super-speciality block of the GMC is equipped to treat Covid-19 patients. Private hospitals of course are full and over flowing. The hospitals may be full of Covid-19 patients but unfortunately a large number of doctors, nurses and attendants have become infected. The GMC is working at only 70% strength as 25 doctors including five consultants have tested positive since the third wave started.
Margao has not even mobilised enough ambulances to transport advanced cases of Covid-19 patients to the ICUs of the GMC’s super-speciality block. The South Goa District Hospital is still not ready to accept or treat Covid-19 patients. The only consolation is that the man primarily responsible for resisting mid-night curfew at the peak of the peak festive season, Babu Ajagaonkar, himself tested Covid-19 positive.
RED CARPET FOR LOBO & WIFE
AND a few stray thoughts on the Calangute MLA Michael Lobo and his wife Sancha Delilah Lobo being welcomed to the Congress party. There was a lot of suspense of Tuesday, January 11 when Michael Lobo announced that he was joining the Congress party. There was a revolt among the Congress party workers in the Calangute constituency. The Calangute Congress block were expecting a ticket to go to the former Congress MLA Agnelo Fernandes.
There were also strong objections within the Congress party to the demand that Michael Lobo’s wife, Delilah, should also be given the ticket for the Siolim constituency. The senior Congress leaders were also aware that the Goa Swabhiman party had put up a strong candidate in Roshan Mathai of Calangute.
Several Congress leader believe that it was Michael Lobo who put pressure on Pramod Sawant not to impose any curbs during the peak of the peak tourist season. The most popular nightclubs of Titos and Cohiba are in Calangute constituency. Besides on New Year’s eve the beaches in the Calangute constituency, including Candolim and Baga, were jam packed with tourists without masks and maintaining no physical distance — to see adeus to the last sunset of the year.
But apparently like all the other parties contesting this year’s Valentin’e Day elections, win-ability is the only criteria for allotting tickets. Never mind that the Supreme Court and Election Commission have made it clear that win-ability cannot be the only reason for giving tickets to candidates with criminal records.
Michael Lobo is reported to have promised to get all the seats in Bardez taluka for the Congress, just as Babush Monserrate has promised the BJP all the seats in Tiswadi. We would not be surprised if a desperate Congress, which now has only two MLAs, invites Babush Monserrate to join them in the hope that he will get them the five Tiswadi seats.
TRINAMOOL’S BHUMIPUTRA PROMISE
AND a few stray thoughts on the Trinamool Congress announcing its own version of Pramod Sawant’s now scrapped or kept on hold bhumiputra bill. On Tuesday, January 11, 2022 the Goa Trinamool Congress announced his third promise to the people of Goa. Not necessarily to the people of Goa but definitely to the residents of Goa, as the Trinamool does not make a distinction between niz Goenkars and migrant settlers. In an action replay of the CM’s Bhumiputra Bill which was later withdrawn by the BJP, the TMC has declared that if it comes to power, all those residing in Goa before 1976 will be provided title and ownership papers of the land that they are in possession of.
This would include a large number of migrant settlers because the percentage of outsiders who migrated to Goa in the first decade after Liberation was as high as 35%. In any case, the fact that Goans who have been in possession of property before 1974 are the actual owners, is questionable. It is entirely possible and even probable that a large number of them are illegal encroachers. There are clear cut laws governing the conferment of title and ownership rights to any resident, regardless of whether he has been in possession before 1974 or has been a resident of Goa for 30 years as stated in the scrapped Bhumiputra bill.
This is particularly complicated in Goa as it follows the Uniform Civil Code. Under the Uniform Civil Code, upon death of the owner of any property, inventory proceedings have to be conducted. Which means that a survey has to be done of how much land was owned by the deceased person. The code mandates that 50% of the property should go to the wife, unlike in other states where the wife does not inherit anything. So much so even when an outsider buys property under an agreement for sale, the ownership of the property has to be checked back to four generations to confirm that the seller owns the property that he transfers.
In any case long before the TMC came along with its promise of conferring title and ownership of land on those who were in possession before 1974, there was the Tenancy & Munkar Act passed by the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak party when Dayanand Bandodkar was the first chief minister of Goa, it was at his insistence that the bill was passed. Under the Tenancy & the Munkar Act which is still valid, only the actual tiller of the land may be considered the owner of the land.
Similarly, the personal employees of the landlord called munkar are entitled to 250 sq mts of land in rural areas and 150 sq mts in urban areas. They are required to pay a token sum for getting the property transferred to their names. Possession of property does not necessarily deed legal ownership.
Indeed, even in the case of those who have bought flats or bungalows costing several crore rupees in Goa under agreement for sale, they don’t own the land unless they have entered into the sale deed. To convert an agreement for sale the stamp duty specified has to be paid to the government. What the Trinamool Congress is promising is loot and plunder and illegal grabbing of land!
SPEEDING UP CASES!
AND a last stray thought on cases against several accused of crime speeding UP ahead of the polling date on February 14 2022. Both the SC and the Central Election Commission have made it clear that convicted criminals are not eligible to contest elections. The law is that anyone who has been convicted in a case which carries a sentenced of more than seven years is barred from contesting elections for six years. It was under this provision that former Bihar chief minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav, was convicted for ten years for misappropriation of government funds allotted for the purchase of fodder.
Similarly, the late CM of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha, and her close friend Sashikala, were both barred from contesting as they were convicted in corruption cases for more than seven years. The owner of Big Daddy casino in Goa, Gautam Konda, is also barred from contesting elections as he was convicted on charges of rape of an air hostess.
However, since under the law every individual is innocent until proved guilty beyond the shadow of any doubt, even candidates who have been charge-sheeted such as Mauvin Godinho, Dayanand Narvekar and Babush and Jennifer Monserrate can contest elections. Though the Supreme Court has directed all High Courts and Districts Courts to fast track the trial of politicians with criminal cases pending against them. It is unlikely that any verdicts will be pronounced before the last date for nomination which in the case of Goa is January 28.